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Tom Hayden's Iraqi Jihad By: Jacob Laksin
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Come November 11, Tom Hayden will be the main attraction at a “strategic planning session” against the Iraq war organized by the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP). A self-styled “spiritual” and “progressive” group, the ICUJP’s agenda reads as if it might have been lifted directly from the “Indo-China Peace Campaign,” the antiwar lobbying initiative that Hayden and his then-wife, Jane Fonda, organized during the Vietnam era.

Almost every item on its political itinerary, in fact, seems like a nod to Hayden’s activist past. Just as Hayden denounced the U.S. efforts in Vietnam as “racist” and “imperialist,” the ICUJP claims that Iraq “is symptomatic of the racism, imperialism and supremacy of corporate America, which continue to define America.” The ICUJP’s transformational mission calls to mind the Port Huron Statement, the revolutionary manifesto that Hayden authored in 1962 for Students for a Democratic Society. Beyond advocating opposition to “the war machine,” the ICUPJ urges its supporters to work “toward a radical democracy that will truly foster justice and peace in the world.”


Hayden’s efforts in today’s antiwar movement are no surprise, of course; they are simply part of his life-long personal vendetta against America and his die-hard support of its totalitarian and terrorist enemies. In the late Sixties, it was Hayden who spearheaded the antiwar campaign that eventually forced America's withdrawal from Vietnam, which, in turn, facilitated the bloodbath that followed in Southeast Asia. As unsparing in his attacks on America as he was effusive in his praise for Communist North Vietnam—after a visit to Hanoi, Hayden insisted that he had seen the “rice roots democracy at work”—he could claim a share of the credit for the American withdrawal that sealed the doom of 2.5 million people.


To his dogmatic faith in the inherent injustice of the American enterprise, Hayden has always stayed true. Having witnessed the disaster occasioned by the American pullout from Vietnam, Hayden is now bent on repeating the same horrifying scenario in Iraq.


A survey of Hayden's recent activities gives every indication that he remains completely indifferent to the painful lessons of American defeat in Vietnam. In August, he wrote an op-ed column for the Los Angeles Times that merely updated his condemnation of the Vietnam War and South Vietnam’s anti-Communist government into a condemnation of the Iraq war and Iraq’s democratically elected government. The war, Hayden claimed, “is not worth another minute in lost lives, lost honor, lost taxes, lost allies.” Echoing his former demand that the United States accommodate Communist aggression, Hayden also called on the United States to appease Islamist terror. President Bush, Hayden declared, had to appoint a “peace envoy” in order to “encourage and cooperate in peace talks with Iraqi groups opposed to the occupation, including insurgents, to explore a political settlement” (Emphasis added).


Earlier this spring, Hayden penned a letter to Howard Dean, lashing out at the Democratic National Committee Chair for some Democrats’ continued support of the American war effort. He also used the opportunity to lament that “the Bush Administration, along with its clients in Baghdad, is ignoring or suppressing forces within the Iraqi coalition calling for peace talks with the resistance”—that is, the terrorist insurgency being waged against Iraqi civilians.


But Hayden has gone further in his efforts to aid the Iraqi “resistance,” just as he did during the Vietnam War, when he infamously traveled to North Vietnam to meet with Communist and Viet Cong despots. In late September, Hayden traveled to London to meet with the self-identified members of the resistance in Iraq, including the henchmen of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. “They see themselves as the political wing of the resistance, which they define on three levels: the armed resistance, the political resistance and the community resistance against sectarianism,” Hayden enthused. In a letter reporting on his meeting, published in the left-wing website Common Dreams, Hayden omitted all mention of the murder spree carried out by his admired allies. Instead, reprising his one-time assurance that the communists sought to “liberate” South Vietnam and Cambodia, he claimed jihadists aspire only to “cross ethnic and sectarian lines in order to rebuild a nationalist and united Iraqi state.”


Hayden’s current campaign to rally support for the “resistance” comes at a time when Iraq has begun approaching the model of a nationalist and united nation, which is so violently opposed by Baathist diehards and Islamist extremists who comprise its ranks. Preliminary signs suggest that the Iraqi constitution will be approved; it also seems to have won the support of many Sunnis, who appear uneager to repeat their boycott of the country’s first democratic election in decades. Parallel to the growth of enthusiasm for participatory democracy has come the growing strength of Iraq’s security forces. Progress, in short, continues apace.


It is that progress that Tom Hayden now labors to arrest. “History shows that people power can pull down the pillars of the policies,” he recently proclaimed at a London antiwar rally. That these pillars are often the ones upholding the spread of freedom and democratic government is a lesson that Hayden, more than three decades after the tragic aftermath of the Vietnam War, seems determined to ignore.


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Jacob Laksin is managing editor of Front Page Magazine. His email is jlaksin -at- gmail.com

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